Lead With the Head and Heart

2020-05-12 By Francisco Valdovines

When I was 8 years old, I told my mom that I wanted to be the captain of my soccer team; her answer was, “good leaders must first become good servants”. After many years I discovered that the sentence was written by Robert Greenleaf in 1904. I wanted to share the date with you because I was shocked to learn how old that sentence was and how many people had probably heard it before me.

Getting back to the story, after sharing the sentence, she asked me if I was ready to: serve the rest of my team, work harder, practice more, support each member, and ensure that my team becomes the best. Of course, I felt scared and I thought “why should all that be my responsibility?” I just wanted to be the captain to get the #10 on my jersey, but I was set on becoming the captain, so I talked to the coach and explained my plans to become one. That’s when he gave me another big quote that is still in my mind, "you have to inspire them first and then they’ll want to work with you in all those tasks".

As time has passed, I still remember those big lessons from when I was a kid and how they helped me to keep moving on the path to become a better leader. I'm still working on it, and I want to use this space to share some of my experiences about the most important lessons I have learned throughout my life.

Never stop learning

This lesson has been on my mind since I was a kid. My father used to be a military officer so the first image that I had of him was reading a book, and he always let us know that no matter what your job is, you have the responsibility to keep learning until the last day of your life.

Failures are a chance to start again

I learned that failures are not because you are not good but because you are not properly prepared and you get a new chance to try again. That helps me avoid the frustration of failure (not always but at least less than usual).

Teach others

When I met my mentor my first question was, “how much should I pay you for the mentorship?”. I got the best answer ever: "My payment is, that you teach all the people that you can what you learned here."

Analyze objectively

Most of the time, leadership is about analyzing the situation with a neutral perspective, just identifying the facts. I can say that meditation helps me a lot to better control my feelings and to avoid distractions and let me focus only on the one that I need to solve.


I truly believe that humility is not something that you just learn, it's something that you should practice every day, it’s a way of life. Understanding this is the best way to connect to people and remind you that you can be a better person tomorrow.

Get feedback

Getting feedback is not the hard part, it’s what you do with that information, how you process it. Understand that you should be grateful that the people took the time to give you feedback because they really care and believe you can improve.

Love what you do

I'm pretty sure that is not the first time that you read this, but the quote is incomplete, it should be something like “love each thing that happens during the process to achieve the goal“. We are not certain to be alive tomorrow so we should try to love even the small everyday situations we encounter. At least in that way, you will know that you loved what you did until your last day on Earth.

Give credit to those who deserve it

It's important that as a leader you understand that the team is always more important than the individual, but it is right to recognize when someone accomplishes something exceptional for the entire team. This reinforces that as a leader you really pay attention to the effort of your team.

To close this, I just want to tell you that whatever you do try to keep your eyes open to serendipity (the occurrence of an unplanned fortunate discovery) and make sure you keep what is right for you. Some people talk about a sixth sense, I believe that when you activate that sixth sense, it is when you connect your mind with your heart.

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